My first Toronto pride experience  

Image of two people wearing rainbow accessories facing away from the camera and talking
Image of two people wearing rainbow accessories facing away from the camera and talking
Photo by Madeline McInnis

There’s something about hundreds of people coming together to celebrate each other’s identities and fight for each other’s freedom that gives one hope for the future.  

I got to be one of those hundreds as I recently made the trek to Toronto for the 2023 Toronto Pride Parade. Despite being a proudly out genderqueer person for several years now, this year was my first time at the event, and it did not disappoint.   

While I’ve been to some smaller pride events before, this was my first time at one as big as Toronto Pride. Luckily, I had an experienced group of friends to guide me. 

The first thing we checked out were all the booths on Church Street. There was a collection of artists selling their work, vendors selling handmade goods, organizations raising funds for causes and corporations promoting their products.  

I really enjoyed getting to see what all the booths were about. The ones selling products had interesting stories to tell, and the ones raising awareness taught me a lot about different causes, such as HIV prevention and sexual health.  

After another day of walking through booths, Sunday saw the return of the famous Toronto Pride parade. One piece of advice I cannot stress enough for first time goers is to have a plan for the heat. We found a spot right in front of an open bubble tea shop, so we were able to sit down and drink water if we needed to.  

The parade itself was fantastic. It was full of different identities, orientations, ethnic groups, organizations and drag queens. We collected a lot of great stickers and fans, as well as made memories with those in the parade around us.   

Now I can’t go through my experience at a pride event without talking about the corporations. The month of June for big companies means rainbow logos and products, while for the 2SLGBTQ+ community it means a fight for survival.   

When companies commit to being inclusive, they have to follow through on their word. They must practice what they preach in every aspect of their business and hold themselves accountable when they slip up. While it’s disheartening to see companies praised when they don’t deserve it, I hope that with every year they become more dedicated to following through on their promises to support the 2SLGBTQ+ community.  

Overall, I had an amazing experience. It was a great introduction to Toronto Pride, and I’ll take these memories with me for the rest of my life. The most important advice to take with you to your first pride is to be safe. Take care of yourself and know where you can go if you need help.  

I had a fantastic weekend full of good friends, empowering experiences and a more optimistic outlook on the future of our world.   

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